The Delaware Art Museum’s Board of Trustees have tapped Sam Sweet to serve as its new executive director and CEO, effective this summer.
The board announced, Wednesday, that Sweet will relocate to Wilmington from Washington, D.C.
“The appointment of a bold cultural leader like Sam Sweet to guide our museum into the future starts a new and exciting chapter in our history,” said Roberts W. Brokaw III, board president and chair of the search committee. “During his 20-year career, Sam has demonstrated a keen ability not only to drive economic growth and community development, but also to improve education and quality of life in the communities he and his organizations have served.”
The board conducted a nationwide search to replace Danielle Rice, who left the museum in 2013 for a position at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Mike Miller led the museum in the interim. Sweet will replace him. “He fully grasps our organization’s potential and is wholly aligned with the Board’s vision for moving the Museum forward,” Brokaw said.
“I am inspired by the museum’s collections and programs, but most of all, by the passion and support of its staff, volunteers, donors, and members,” Sweet said. “Guided by the founders’ vision to connect people to and through art, I believe we can continue to grow the museum and bolster its place as a cultural beacon and civic anchor. I am humbled to serve this community and build on the Delaware Art Museum’s artistic vitality, spark its dynamic growth, and ensure its financial stability for a successful and sustainable future for generations to come.”
Sweet joins the Delaware Art Museum as it continues to work around sanctions and its loss of accreditation, following the sale of four works of art to pay down debt. Last fall, Miller said once a new director was named, conversations about lifting those sanctions could commence.
Turning things around
Wednesday’s announcement touted Sweet’s track record of leading arts organizations through times of transformative change. As executive director at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C., he raised funds to eliminate the organization’s building debt while launching a number of critically-acclaimed music and theatre programs.
During his tenure as the managing director of the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, Sweet helped the theater transition from an operation in a renovated garage with a $1.8 million budget to a $16 million complex with a $6 million budget.
He also contributed to the success of The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C., helping it to become one of the largest nonprofit theaters in the country.
Sweet currently teaches in George Mason University’s Masters in Arts Management program and owns a consulting practice that aids nonprofits in building organizational capacity.
Sweet holds a Master’s Degree in business administration from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history from Columbia University.
His first day on the job will be July 1, 2016.